Ukraine War, 29–30 June 2022

Good morning everybody!

Well, it’s not that much of a ‘morning’ any more — especially not in Ukraine: it took me longer than expected to cross-check reports from the Lysychansk area.

AIR/MISSILE WAR

The VKS continues its campaign of ‘high-precision missile strikes’ on Ukraine. AFAIK, it deployed some 200 Kh-22s over the last 15 days to target what even Ukrainians describe as ‘military and critical infrastructure’.

Now, part of the problem is that ‘targeting’ and ‘(actually) hitting’ are two different things. For example: they’ve missed that Pidyomnyy Bridge (already damaged in earlier strikes) with all eight Kh-22s fired at it. That old missile is nifty: prefers to go for the nearby berms. What a surprise, considering its obsolete seeker-head is always searching for targets with highest radar cross sections (and yes, berms have a higher radar cross section than bridges, just for example). Perhaps somebody could forward the message to the Keystone Cops, please? Would help save them from all the surprised facial expressions when confronted with reports about Kh-22s hitting civilians, once again…

….and, you know, the screen-grabs like the two attached below are ‘yet additional no evidence’ that the Russians have hit that shopping mall in Kremenchuk, four days ago…

Concerned about tarnished reputation of their arms, the Keystone Cops were in a hurry to provide another good example for deployment of their high-precision missiles, this morning — when targeting…. sigh… I’ve got no trace of clue what. What is sure is that they have hit at last two residential buildings in Sergeyevka, in the Odessa Oblast.

Mind: the place is something like Ukrainian ‘Riviera’. See: residential buildings and tourist apartments everywhere, no military bases there, no depots for NATO arms (and even if: why ‘hide’ these there?), no bases for foreign mercenaries…. Perhaps there were few Mars People and Biden’s biolabs around….?

BATTLE OF DONBASS

Kharkiv….the frontlines seem to remain where they used to be, two-three days ago, and the Russians are back to striking the city by Iskanders.

Izium….Ukrainians seem to have constructed a pontoon bridge on either the Chepil River or the Siversky Donets River, somewhere in forests west of the town: the Russians are heavily shelling the area for some 5–6 days now, and trying to push north and south of that forest (from around Shchasiyve on Volobuivka and from Kamianka on Andriivka and further west). That said, to me this appears as another big artillery battle: complex, taking very long time without any useful results for either side, and costly.

For how costly: rumour has it, several of Ukrainian M777s deployed (either in the Izium or) in the Kharkiv area have been damaged in recent combat. The Russians claim they’ve been brought to the Kharkiv Transport Plant for repairs.

Sloviansk….word is the Russians have re-newed their offensive on Dolyna and Bohorodichne, but I couldn’t find any kind of details.

Lysychansk… generally, the Russians — and their fans abroad, are announcing, and discussing, an imminent fall (indeed: a wholesale collapse) of Lysychansk. Is all perfectly possible, no doubt. The only problem is: they’re doing so for a full week already. Although, you know, troops of an entire conglomerate of very disparate and battered Ukrainian units are feeling betrayed and abandoned by their officers… Would somebody, please, be so kind and inform Ukrainians about this, too?

Now, perhaps Ukrainians really have only some rearguards left in Lysychansk. No contacts there, so can’t say. And the town is not as densely built-up like Severodonetsk. Thus, at least in theory: much harder to defend. No doubt, the last Ukrainian route out of Lysychansk — the one via Bilohorivka to Siversk — is under constant shelling by the RFA for a full week now. But, to me it does not appear as if the Russians would be assaulting Lysychansk: there are no reports about them even shelling it, any more. Even the Kadyrov’s ‘special forces’ have released several videos from approaches to the town….and usually, they’re nowhere near the frontline. Instead, there are reports about the Russians trying to mine the Ukrainian exit route — via Bilohorivka and Serebianka — with help of cluster artillery ammunition. This sounds like somebody there is trying to cut off those Ukrainians still inside Lysychansk.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the developments north, west and south-west of Lysychansk that are ‘dramatic’.

North of the town, the Russian Spetsnaz or (and more likely) Wagner PMC seems to have crossed the Siversky Donets and taken Pryvillya. Foremost: west of Lysychansk, the Wagner PMC seem to have — after days of bitter fighting — secured Spirne, and then Verkhnokamyanka, i.e. the ruins of the old Lysychansk Refinery. From there, they should have pushed for Zolotarivka, which they claim to have entered as of this morning, and for Verkhnokamyanske, which is a village two kilometres east of Siversk.

Bakhmut….seems, the situation down along the M06 has calmed down a bit, the last two days. The Wagner PMC is back to Klynove, and controlling the highway south of it. But, they didn’t manage to take Semyhirya, the Vuhlerhirska power plant, nor Novoluhanske. That said, no idea why are Ukrainians holding these exposed positions any more: potentially — all are easy to cut off, and only unnecessarily extending the frontline. Guess: probably, it’s the power plant.

SOUTH

In Mariupol, the Russians are ‘busy distributing humanitarian aid’. You know, a single UAZ-452 carrying unpacked loafs of bread is all the dozens of thousands of surviving civilians need — especially since the Russians destroyed 90% of residential buildings to save them from ‘nationalists’ and ‘extremists’…

Kherson….Ukrainians are making a good advance into northern Kherson Oblast. For example, should have liberated Vysokopillya and Potomkyne, perhaps Olhyne, further west, too. Further south, they’re pushing on Klapaya and Mododetske, for example.

NAVAL

The Keystone Cops in Moscow have proudly announced yesterday that they have evacuated their garrison from the Zminyi Island. The RIA added that was an ‘act of goodwill’ (see attachment)…. That sarcast in me cannot but wonder: perhaps it would’ve been a sign of goodwill not to launch an entirely pointless aggression on Ukraine, destroy the eastern half of country, mass-murder civilians and drive 10+ million of Ukrainians out of their homes — first and foremost?

What is certain is that this decision was taken after all the attempts to reinforce the garrison through deployment of Pantsyr air defence systems have failed: these have shot down so many of Ukrainian UAVs, missiles and rockets, and Russians were ah so victorious there, that the Pantsyrs and all the other heavy weapons have all been knocked out over the last week. And, the nifty NATO then supplied BGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, which are preventing warships of the Russian Navy from approaching even the Mykolaiv area, not to talk about Odessa. Finally, the VKS seems to have lost another Mi-8 helicopter either bringing in reinforcements and/or supplies, or trying to evacuate survivors, too.

Of course, Certified Fools (Kremlin) have also rushed to add that now it’s Ukraine who is to blame for not exporting its own wheat and other crops, and is thus going to be responsible for any kind of famine in Africa and/or Asia. Then, you know, it’s not so that the Russians have attacked Ukraine, mined approaches to the Ukrainian coast, destroyed the Ukrainian Navy, and/or destroyed much of wheat stocked in the port of Mykolaiv: nah, it’s Ukrainians to blame if they can’t start exporting, right away….

Reactions in the Russian (and allied) social media are firm: doesn’t matter, and Zminyi was taken because Russia could and was now abandoned because Russia could, and this was just another of Zelensky’s obsessions, and Russia is going to win….right after sinking all the aircraft carriers of the US Navy by its hypersonic missiles….and, whoever comes to the idea to remind of all the Russian troops killed there, and the families they’ve left behind — is rapidly silenced by a shit-storm.

Makes me wonder if anybody from Moscow, St Petersburg, any of Russians abroad — or Putin’s fans from abroad — would volunteer to rent some motorboat in Odessa, sail out to Zminyi and check if all the Russians have really left the island — and also to count all the improsvised explosive devices they’ve left there, but especially mines floating in the Black Sea?

What mines, you ask? Well, RUMINT has it that one of floating mines deployed by the Russians to block Ukrainian ports went all the way to Mariupol and blew up a Russian Navy’s amphibious assault vessel there… That’s really very bad news for Putin and his shareholders: any idea how much it costs them if there’s a slow-down in their looting of the wreckage of Azovstal? At least 6–7 ships hauling steel from there have been registered over the last month…

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Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper

From Austria; specialised in analysis of contemporary warfare; working as author, illustrator, and book-series-editor for Helion & Co.